Jewellery has always taken inspiration from the past, with certain stylistic features and motifs appearing in pieces long after they first captured people’s attention. This has been the case throughout history, with revival movements springing up over the centuries. A renewed sense of national pride allowed jewellers to revisit the beauty of past eras and revive age-old techniques which had been lost over time.
The Egyptian revival began in France in the late eighteenth century, following Napoleon’s storming of Egypt. Indeed, at the Paris Exposition of 1867, jewellery houses including Boucheron and Mellerio featured Egyptian inspired jewels in their collections. These pieces could be brightly coloured, incorporating easily identifiable symbols, such as scarab beetles, and winged motifs. These appeared frequently in Ancient Egyptian iconography, though in a highly linear form. This movement really came to the fore in the Art Deco era, following the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb by Howard Carter in 1922, and jewellery continued to be made in this style until the onset of WWII.
At the same time as Egyptomania was sweeping through the Western world, the buried cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum were discovered, to much excitement! This led to a renewed interest in archaeological designs, and artefacts. Later, Etruscan burial sites were also revealed, providing further inspiration for jewellery in this classical style, with pieces often featuring granulation and filigree details that could be seen on ancient artefacts. It was Italian jeweller Fortunato Pio Castellani, who was at the forefront of this Archaeological Revival movement, and he gained great renown for his pieces, even presenting his jewellery to Napoleon III!
In France, the Gothic and Renaissance Revival tastes were particularly popular and became known as the ‘style cathédrale’. Jules Wièse was at the fore of this movement. Combining medieval motifs with traditional manufacturing methods, he drew inspiration from Arthurian Legends and other chivalric tales, as well as Gothic architecture and art forms. Wièse’s exceptional craftsmanship saw him win prizes at several international expositions throughout the latter half of the nineteenth century.
Another jeweller who found great fame with his revival pieces was jeweller and goldsmith Carlo Giuliano, who likely studied under Castellani in his Rome workshop. Giuliano made a name for himself in creating beautiful Renaissance inspired jewels, opening his retail shop in Piccadilly, London, in the mid-1870s. Giuliano developed his own distinct style, incorporating colour via enamel and unusual gemstones in his pieces. After his death, the business was taken over by his sons, and was renamed ‘Carlo and Arthur Giuliano’. Their clients included everyone from artists to royalty, ensuring the enduring legacy of these remarkable pieces.
If you are looking to revive your jewellery box with a historical jewel, our entire collection is available to view online or in our showroom, no appointment is necessary. With every purchase we offer complimentary and fully insured shipping worldwide.